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Crowder sinks fisheries act

Greater privatization and a depletion of resources will result from the new federal Fisheries Act, says the Nanaimo-Cowichan MP.

Jean Crowder, West Coast fisheries critic, said the NDP will not support the new legislation.

“I agree that there needs to be an overhaul of the Fisheries Act, but I think the biggest part of the problem has been the process,” she said.

“First, this piece of legislation didn’t have any kind of extensive consultation with the people who were going to be affected by the legislation.”

There’s been no changes to the Fisheries Act since 1868. Highlights of some of the changes include expanded roles for fishery participants in decision making, new language stating the priority of conservation, and a new sanctions system, called the Canada Fisheries Tribunal.

Crowder said of major concern is the act does not acknowledge the fishery as a common property resource, and has the potential to exclude ordinary Canadians and fishermen from accessing the fishery.

“We are concerned that there is an element of creeping privatization here,” she said.

With fishing licenses issued for up to 15 years, Crowder said those with money but who do not rely on fisheries for revenue could buy up all the quotas.

“We want it to say whoever holds the license should fish.”

Crowder said stronger conservation and protection measures are needed to ensure fish and fish habitat come first. She said the old act had a loophole through which mining companies could use healthy lakes as dumping grounds, but the new act includes no provisions to protect against this problem.

Allan Macdonald, program director with the fisheries and aquaculture management branch of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said conservation and protection of fish and their habitat is stated throughout the new legislation.

He said while DFO officials would have the authority to issue licenses for 15 years, they can shorten the term if conservation matters are involved.

“There’s been a fair amount of consultation on the general intent of the act,” said Macdonald, adding this includes meeting with the public and fishing stakeholders last year and the year before.

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